Bel­gium ram­pant, Por­tu­gal sur­vive scare in qual­i­fiers

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

Bel­gium ham­mered Es­to­nia 8-1 to go clear in Group H, while Cris­tiano Ron­aldo scored twice as Por­tu­gal sur­vived a scare be­fore over­com­ing Latvia 4-1 in World Cup qual­i­fy­ing on Sun­day.

There were braces from Romelu Lukaku and Dries Mertens as Bel­gium ran ram­pant with fur­ther goals from Thomas Me­u­nier, Eden Haz­ard, Yan­nick Car­rasco and an own goal to make it four wins from four.

In the same group Greece scored a 95thminute equaliser through Gior­gos Tza­vel­las af­ter a free-kick had given Bosnia the lead as the ball re­bounded back off the post and in off goal­keeper Orestis Karnezis. The point for Greece means they have 10 from four games in Group H, two be­hind the Bel­gians.

Gi­bral­tar made a piece of his­tory and were level for a while in Cyprus be­fore go­ing down ag­o­nis­ingly 3-1. But they had cause to cel­e­brate a sig­nif­i­cant con­so­la­tion with Lee Cas­ciaro’s 51st-minute equaliser-their first ever World Cup qual­i­fier away goal.

Ron­aldo scored twice and even missed a spot-kick as Euro­pean cham­pi­ons Por­tu­gal re­cov­ered from a se­cond-half wob­ble in Lis­bon to re­main three points adrift of Group B lead­ers Switzer­land. Ron­aldo con­verted a first-half spot kick to open the scores but then missed a se­cond one which hit the post.

Within a minute Latvia were level as sub­sti­tute Ar­turs Zjuzins pounced on the loose ball fol­low­ing a goal­mouth scram­ble to fire home on 67 min­utes.

But head­ers from Wil­lian and Bruno Alves and a spec­tac­u­lar scis­sor-kick from Ron­aldo as­sured Por­tu­gal of the three points.

Ear­lier in Group B, the Faroe Is­lands were sim­i­larly plucky in soggy Lucerne, where Switzer­land scored seven min­utes from the end through Stephan Licht­steiner to grind out a 2-0 vic­tory and main­tain their 100 per­cent record.

In the same group Hun­gary ham­mered An­dorra 4-0 at home.


Out-of-favour Manch­ester United winger Memphis De­pay came off the bench to score twice and save the Nether­lands’ blushes in Lux­em­bourg.

De­pay gave United man­ager Jose Mour­inho a re­minder of his worth just as the Dutch were slid­ing to an em­bar­rass­ing draw.

The 3-1 vic­tory over Lux­em­bourg keeps the mis­fir­ing Dutch in the hunt for a place at Rus­sia 2018, but they will need to play bet­ter if they are to trump the twin threats of ta­ble-top­pers France and Swe­den in Group A.

Ar­jen Robben had a chance af­ter a quar­ter of an hour for the Dutch, but should have done bet­ter than fir­ing at Ralph Schon in the Lux­em­bourg goal, as the Dutch tight­ened the screw. The home stop­per was fi­nally beaten on 36 min­utes when Robben moved the ball onto his favourite left foot to slot home for a de­served Dutch lead.

But a minute be­fore the break the min­nows grabbed a lev­eller af­ter Joshua Brenet felled Daniel da Mota in the box and Maxime Chanot pun­ished the vis­i­tors from the penalty spot.

Robben, whose bril­liant ca­reer has been blighted by in­jury, failed to make it out for the se­cond half. Wes­ley Snei­jder was also hooked at the break.

It was De­pay, one of the re­place­ments, who struck soon af­ter­wards to break home hearts.

And the 22-year-old, strongly linked with a move away from Old Traf­ford to Ever­ton, sealed the match with his se­cond goal in the fi­nal min­utes. Also in Group A Bul­garia edged Be­larus 1-0 in Sofia. —AFP

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